Building a Branded Resume

I’ve had the same conversation lately with job seekers regarding the quality of their resumes. To my absolute shock, most of them had hired a professional to write it!

While I was surprised such a boring and ordinary product came out of paid “professional services,” the problem also all became clear.

There are professionals building resumes for computers, not people.

They optimize the format for online applications, as many of these websites restructure the resumes into a form and apply keyword filters. The problem with such resumes is what happens when it gets to the human eyes? It seems to me you should have a second designed resume for humans if you chose to have a computer version for online applications. If you are to only hold one version, I would think the human version would be far more valuable, as a computer is not a decision maker.

If you have read Not Taught, you know Keenan is very clear that your resume is near worthless. This is true. Your LinkedIn is far more valuable in providing the traditional resume information.

But the resume function, like so many other things, has changed.

It no longer has value only demonstrating your work experience. It is now part of your personal branding (chapter 2 of Not Taught). The so-called resume professionals are missing this mark…

Think like a marketer…

I want you to think of the best printed collateral you have seen for product promotion. Maybe it is the mini-booklet for the new Mini Cooper or a clever little card you found at a conference outlining a SaaS product’s value so clearly.

Do you have it in your mind?

Such well-designed printed collateral is visually appealing while also displaying the key features of the product and strongly represents the value proposition.

In considering that perfectly designed product handout, how dull and lifeless is your resume? Be honest with yourself…

Chapter 11 of Not Taught is devoted to the notion of “Don’t Be Boring!”

In a world where a resume is still going to be requested, why are you handing out your lifeless resume built to impress a computer?

I realize I am challenging you to be creative beyond your comfort zone, but consider the implications…

  • Sales and Marketing alignment is a hot topic these days. When salespeople tell me things like, “I’m in sales, not design” or worse “I’m not an admin” as a response to their boring resume, they have just outed themselves that they have a shelf life and will expire soon.
  • To sell is to be creative. If you cannot apply some creativity to your ability to sell yourself, why would anyone believe you could do this for their product?
  • Lazy is never admirable. I hear salespeople tell me they don’t feel they should work so hard in being hired. So many have the same pitch in selling themselves: “I’m always the top performer,” or “I never miss my quota.” This approach of telling me you are awesome still doesn’t show me why or how you achieved awesomeness. Just like I would never buy a product with such a pitch, neither would I ever hire you on that alone.
  • Minimum effort people are not among the 1%. They are the many.


Are you ready for examples?

If you google, “best resume design,” you will find so many excellent results. Here are only a few:


If it helps to think of a resume not as a resume but rather a one-page ad, then please do so.

Here, Alex doesn’t harp on his experience. He emphasizes his expertise. He has his social links available (and most likely hyperlinked), honestly shows his skills in software applicable to his profession (notice he did not list Word or Excel); he is honest about his character strengths noting he has room to improve his teamwork (also showing he has high autonomy), and lastly, shows a bit about himself with his hobbies.

Now, I’m not saying to copy this document. Alex does discuss some things that I don’t think I would want to place on my resume like a birthday or relationship status. It appears he designed it to look like a social profile, but still his choice. As well, I feel stating “references upon request” is a waste of space, as it is naturally assumed. But these are preferences. The point being, make it your own.


If you were intimidated by the first example, take a breath. That was for a designer and the skills in quality design are needed in his resume. Here, we have an event stylist. Still a creative career, but not nearly as tech-savvy. While this is showing a more traditional style, the design is well-suited to the “product.”



As seen here, a little color can go a long way…

If you viewed your resume as an information advertisement, what would you change?


Need more help with your resume and job hunt? Check out more blogs below…

7 Basic Resumes Tips Everyone Should Know, but Don’t

7 Pro Tips You Need for the 21st Century Job Hunt

Braedi Leigh